“Obituario dell’estinzione”, the new section of the Guardian teaches Italian newspapers that the loss of biodiversity can (and must) make headlines

A new format launched by The Guardian, which first chose to put the climate crisis on the front page, also coining the term, now choose to launch a new column dedicated to all extinct species over time, not to forget the crisis of the biodiversity that the world is experiencing. The first chapter tells of the disappearance of an endemic bird in Hawaii: the po’ouli. And all newspapers, especially Italian, should imitate him. The loss of biodiversity, as well as the climate crisis, can and should make headlines. On the front page

The catastrophic decline of the Earth’s biodiversity is now a very clear indication that our Planet is going through the sixth wave of mass extinction. Everywhere we sadly witness the disappearance of birds, large predators, corals, wiped out by the destruction of their habitats, hunting and the climate crisis.

However, when a species disappears from common memory, we then speak of a second extinction defined as “social”. Although these two types of extinctions are not necessarily linked, the result is alas the same: the loss of a life form.

We tell you about it here on greenMe every day, unfortunately. But this kind of news is not usually of interest to the generalist media, especially in Italy.

So that the memory of living beings that have died out at the hands of humanity does not fall into oblivion, The Guardian instead launched a column entitled “Extinction obituary – obituary of extinction “ where, like a succession of obituaries, it collects stories and insights on all the animal species that no longer populate the planet. A section that every newspaper should have.

The first issue: the Hawaiian po’ouli

It is the po’ouli to inaugurate the register, a songbird that lived in Maui, in the archipelago of Hawaii, in the rainforest of Hana. Its species was first sighted back in 1973 and even then there were 200 specimens.

In 1997, British ecologist Paul Baker captured some ouli to accurately observe this Hawaiian endemic species. Its weight was just over 26g and its amazing colors. The bird’s plumage had shades and tones of all kinds, from sepia to sienna, from dark cinnamon to military brown to opaque black.

Baker described po’ouli’s eating habits before releasing it into his rainforests. The bird ate land snails, beetles, and grubs and seldom chirped, being rather quiet.

Its decline

From 200 the specimens of po’ouli became only 3 in the new millennium for it had become more and more difficult for the birds to procure land snails. These were a staple food for the European domestic pigs introduced here, whose farms had distorted the appearance of Maui.

In addition to the loss of habitat, many po’ouli were preyed upon by mongooses, mice and other species. Their eggs, left unattended, were likewise stolen.

In 2002 some ethologists and researchers came to the conclusion that the 3 po’ouli still alive had probably never met. They thus took a female po’ouli and released her in the immediate vicinity where a male had been sighted. The expectations for the reproduction of the species were high, but were unfortunately not respected.

In 2004, a team of experts attempted the last expedition to Mount Haleakalā and captured the only living specimen of po’ouli. However, the bird was visibly ill and had lost an eye. Three months after the world’s last po’ouli died and in 2019 the IUCN declared the extinct species.

Thus concludes the story of Hawaii’s vulnerable po’ouli.

Source: The Guardian

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“Obituario dell’estinzione”, the new section of the Guardian teaches Italian newspapers that the loss of biodiversity can (and must) make headlines

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